Backlinks vs Referring Domains [Main Differences & Importance]

Great quality backlinks are the key to getting websites high in the search engine results pages. These are what Google uses to prove your website contains content valuable to readers and what should be displayed to users. Not only that, but they establish relevance between your content and content from other websites. 

It’s important to note that not all backlinks are the same. You can’t just pick one and call it a day. The key to a great backlink is to get them from the best websites possible. These are called referring domains. Obtaining backlinks from authoritative referring domains is a make-or-break deal when it comes to ranking. 

In this article, we’re going to explain the difference between a backlink and referring domain and how to look for them. 

Backlinks vs Referring Domains

Why Is The Difference Important?

It’s quite important to understand the difference between backlinks and referring domains. If you’ve used a free website analysis or dug into your backlink profile, it’s safe to say that you’ve seen how many referring domains and backlinks are associated with your website. That’s great, but what does it mean?

You need to look for the ratio of referring domains to backlinks. If you have a bunch of backlinks but not a lot of referring domains, that indicates a weak backlink profile.

This is important because Google will consider high backlinks and low referring domains as paid linking schemes. Not only that, but search engines are de-indexing blog networks. 

If your website is associated in any way with a de-indexed network, your ranking will be affected. This is why it’s important to stay as far away as possible from paid blog networks.  

What Is A Backlink?

A backlink is a link for one webpage that will be visible on another website. They may be called inbound links or one-way links as well.

These are important in boosting SEO values of websites. They’re essentially a way to tell Google that the website is credible and valuable. The better the backlinks are, the better ranking the website will be. 

Backlinks can be embedded in images or texts within a website. The link location helps boost their value, diversity, and more. It’s only when the backlinks are from special referring domains that they add value to the website.

If there are an excessive amount of backlinks from very few referring domains, the rank evaluation of the site will decrease dramatically.  

What Is A Referring Domain?

A referring domain is an external website that’s responsible for creating links to direct web traffic to other websites. They may also be known as linking domains. They direct referral traffic by creating backlinks. These domains help drive SEO traffic to certain websites through multiple backlinks. 

A single referring domain could create many backlinks to just one website. They’re important because they indicate the credibility of content on a certain website.

The website content is more reliable with the more referring domain links that are available. In order to obtain a number one spot on Google and organic traffic generation, you need to have backlinks that come only from the most trusted referring domains.  

What Are The Main Differences Between The Two?

It may be hard to decipher the differences between the two, so we’re going to sum them up real quick for you. 

1.Backlinks are called one-way or inbound links whereas referring domains are also called linking domains. 

2.Backlinks connotes the hyperlinks that lead the reader back to the website and the latter is where the website or web page produces the backlinks. 

  1. Backlinks are created to improve the traffic of a website and referring domains help drive traffic to particular websites. 
  2. Only referring domains can produce backlinks and backlinks are always the product of referring domains. 
  3. The Google Webmaster tool tracks backlinks and Google Analytics tracks referring domains. 
  4. One of the main differences between the two is that all backlinks are generated from referring domains but not all referring domains produce the same backlinks to a website. 
  5. Multiple referring domain links help increase the priority of a website based on a search engine’s algorithm, but excessive backlinks from one website can diminish SEO rankings. 

Why Are Referring Domains Important?

Referring domains are important because they are the traffic source that tells search engines and online users your website is credible and high-quality.

Google looks at linking domains, source relevance and quality, and the context of your backlink placement and the page where the placement is. Backlinks from top referring domains are important if you’re trying to gain more organic traffic.

One study showed that 90.88 percent of pages that lacked referring domains didn’t obtain organic search traffic from Google. High-quality domains on your target web pages are crucial if you want traffic, sales, and engagement.

The Importance Of Referring Domains & SEO Ranking

Referring domains are SEO ranking factors and are considered to be high-impact ranking factors. These are the high-impact ranking factors that are going to be the difference between great and non-existent search optimization efforts.

Each referring domain is essentially a vote of confidence from other websites. So if you have dozens or more of different websites that link back to your web page, you’ll have the advantage, but you can’t just get links from any referring domain. 

How Do You Get Referring Domains?

The strategy that involves link building with a referring domain to help obtain valuable SEO results involves a few different tactics. 

Analyzing The Referring Domains Report

If you take a look at the referring domains report, you will see a complete list of each domain that links back to your website.

After you’ve exported the file, you can then take a look at the quality and quantity of the referring domains to understand which has the best backlink profile. The more high-authority scoring domains, the better. 

Identifying Content Gaps and Determine the Top-Performing Pages

One of the best ways you can determine what your next content marketing strategy and link-building campaign will be is to identify your top pages. These are the most popular pages that are currently on your website that have also received high backlink numbers.

 High backlink numbers from top referring domains mean websites and online users trust your content. If you revolve your SEO strategy around high-quality content and create additional blog posts and web pages for relevant topics, you can achieve maximum link-building efforts. 

Content Creation

Valuable content is key to a successful website. The more valuable your content is, the more links you will get from top referring domains. If you use the proper marketing strategy, you can widen your target audience and referral links. Additionally, you’ll boost your conversions from natural search results. 

Acquiring more backlinks from unique referring domains and improving your marketing efforts can be improved by doing the following: 

  • Publishing case studies
  • Leveraging the niche expertise of your writers
  • Publishing expert roundup posts
  • Explore other types of content such as local press releases, expert interviews, whitepapers, and eBooks
  • Convert in-depth posts into infographics 

Who Are Your Competitors?

If you know who your competing domains are, you can beat them to the top. If you are using software that keeps track of your information, you can look at the number of unique keywords that your competitor has and your common keywords.

Using this data can help build your website strategy. It also helps determine the number and quality of their referring domains. 

Take a look at their backlink profile and assess how they earn more links and rank higher than you in search results. In doing so, you can develop ways to improve or match their link-building strategy. 

What Are Your Destination Pages?

Take a look at what other websites would benefit the most from your content as well as drive potential growth to your website. Not only that, but which sites you want to see your links appear on. 

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just do some link building and put your guest posts and links anywhere.

You have to choose reputable, top referring domains and achieve meaningful, real connections. You should take into consideration their content quality, topics they discuss, the structure of their site, and their reputation. 

Get Your Content Out There

Infographics are the best share-worthy content you can send to high-authority domains. You can use websites such as Help A Reporter Out. This is a free service website that can help you build powerful backlinks and bring traffic to your website. All you need to do is go to their website, sign up as a resource, and then pick the categories that are relevant to your niche and what you feel qualified to contribute to. 

Final Thoughts

It is our hope that this article has helped you better understand the difference between a referring domain and a backlink is. To sum it up once more, a referring domain is unique to a website that links back to the target site and directs traffic to it. Backlinks are embedded links that are visible to other websites. 

Both referring domains and backlinks are vital for SEO and link-building strategies, the former more important than the latter.

They are a ranking factor and help signal trust and authority to Google depending on the quality of the referring domain. Backlinks that come from high-traffic and trusted domains are going to have more value than those from low-quality and untrusted websites.